Andrew Hawkins of Cloud organisation Eduserv on what he calls 'the innovation game'
The public sector has been under pressure for some time to introduce the best services on digital platforms. While private organisations push ahead with the latest products and services, the public sector has always been labelled as the older, slower relative, unable to provide the latest and greatest - but that is all about to change.
For too long, in my view, public sector organisations have been shackled by a reactive approach to IT - finally, they are now looking for innovative ways to drive better approaches. Recent research, for example, has shown that only a mere 3% of public sector IT managers count upgrades amongst their top priorities for 2012. According to the same research, these organisations are changing their overall approach to become more agile and also look at technological innovations such as cloud computing which will help to energise the industry.
Cloud will cut costs
Whilst there were hesitations around the cloud before, organisations are now realising the improvements it can make to the business. Pay-as-you-go models can offer smaller companies or departments to provision computing resources without waiting for their IT teams to physically purchase IT equipment, slashing costs and enhancing productivity.
We’ve seen many organisations, both public and private, adopt cloud computing and integrate it successfully. This has resulted in more jobs, improvements to productivity and reduction in costs. For many small businesses or departments, this is a huge benefit, with the reduction in costs alone improving their futures. Many cloud resources can also be purchased by the hour, on a credit card, putting computing power back in the hands of line of business directors, enabling them to make fast IT decisions without embarking on a long, drawn out IT procurement process.
Government signs on the dotted line
With the news that the Cabinet Office is recommending a move away from large, monolithic IT contracts and towards smaller, more agile contracts, the future for SMBs looking to deal with the public sector is bright. Indeed, whilst government contracts can be large and wide-ranging, the shift to smaller, more agile providers who are far more attentive than their larger competitors may well provide the government with a more dedicated customer service experience and can offer greater flexibility. Competition will also be healthier; there are only a few large SIs which supply to the government, but there are many, many SMBs which will compete against each other, or partner, to offer the best service to the government.
A good example of this: HMRC, which is an organisation in significant need of innovation. Most transfers of value are electronic – offering opportunities to collect tax effectively, efficiently and accurately. To change the organisation, they must be prepared to be open so that innovators can see opportunities and pathways to modernise the way the tax system works and plan a migration away from the legacy, mainframe spaghetti you will find behind the scenes.
Failure is not an option
Public Sector IT managers are undeterred by the possibility of failure, and are realising the value that innovative IT can provide in helping organisations improve services and reduce costs. Whilst the business needs to carry on as usual, technology simply does not stand still, and there is a significant role for IT in helping public sector to become more agile, deliver more services online and reduce costs.
As a company that develops and delivers technology solutions that demonstrate savings within the public sector, we see many organisations shifting to the cloud, pushing for more accessible websites and embracing innovation. The new, modern approach to IT shows that officers are realising the value of innovative and agile projects which can add significant value to the public, rather than large, monolithic projects which are prone to failure or costly delays.
Innovation within the public sector is just as important as it is in the private sector and we are seeing the game change. Not only has cloud computing made a huge impact on the way organisations across the UK operate, but the focus on smaller, more agile projects will make 2012 a significant year indeed for public sector technology.